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Ten Years On - Stop The War Coalition in London

Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
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The crowd in Trafalgar Square listening to speeches. Placard states 'Cut War Not Welfare'
Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
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Julian Assange waits to speak at the rally.
Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
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A man with a Tony Blair mask in a cage and a hooded figure with the message Free Shaker, a London resident still held in Guantanamo
Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
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War on Want trio with huge guns and bags of money pose in Trafalgar Square
Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
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Rapper Lowkey performs in front of a screen with an image of an earlier Stop the War demonstration outside Parliament
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A woman listening to speeches looking worried, with a CND peace symbol drawn in ballpoint on one finger
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Two women at the front of the crowd listening to speeches
Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
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People at the front of the crowd listening to speeches. Man with hat covered with badges holds placard 'Afghanistan Time to GO'
Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
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Woman in red beret in middle of crowd with green 'Cut War Not Welfare' placards
Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
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Man in crowd and green 'Cut War Not Welfare' placard
Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
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Julian Assange waits to speak in Trafalgar Square
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Jemima Khan waiting to speak in front of one of the Trafalgar Square lions
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Tony Benn relaxes with a pipe after speaking at the rally
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John Pilger after speaking at the rally
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George Galloway raises his hands to the crowd as he speaks.
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National Chair of Stop the War Coalition, Jeremy Corbyn MP waits to speak in front of a lion in Trafalgar Square
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The start of the march to Downing Street with Palestinian flags, CND banner and placards
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106 year old Hetty Bower leads the march to Downing Street
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Black woman with 'Peace' written on her forehead on march down Whitehall, with placards
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Men in 'Anonymous' and 'Tony Blair' masks with black woman and placards at gate to Downing Street
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People in crowd outside Downing Street with 'Anonymous' masks and placards
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Syrians take part in the protest at Downing Street with flags and placards
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Police hold back crowd of protesters outside the Downing Street gates
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Three figures in masks - Obama, Blair and Cameron - in Whitehall opposite Downing Street call for Tony Blair to be taken to the Hague court and for the release o Londoner Shaker Aamer, still held in Guantanamo,
  • Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
  • Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
  • Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
  • Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
  • Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
  • Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
  • Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
  • Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
  • Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
  • Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
  • Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
  • Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
  • Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
  • Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
  • Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
  • Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
  • Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
  • Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
  • Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
  • Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
  • Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
  • Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
  • Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London
  • Ten Years On  Stop The War Coalition in London

Ten years after the invasion of Afghanistan, the Stop The War Coalition, CND and MAB held a lengthy mass rally in Trafalgar Square before marching to Downing Street to demand an end to the war. London, United Kingdom. 8th October, 2011

Ten years after the invasion of Afghanistan, the Stop The War Coalition, CND and MAB held a lengthy mass rally in Trafalgar Square before marching to Downing Street to demand an end to the war. London, UK. 08/10/2011

Several thousand people came to Trafalgar Square at noon to show their support for the campaign to end the war in Afghanistan and other imperialist adventures by our government. Since the war started 10 years ago, more than 550 British soldiers have been killed (382 in Afghanistan), and many maimed there in Iraq, where more than a million civilians have been killed. The NATO attacks on Libya, still continuing, are the third western war on a Muslim country.

It was a varied gathering of 'Armed forces veterans, school students, musicians, trade unionists, writers, artists, academics, politicians, campaigners, and military families' that occupied Trafalgar Square, and through the afternoon representatives of all these spoke, though I missed half of the proceedings covering events elsewhere.

As well as speeches there were films shown on the giant screen, performance events, art installations, and debates and stalls by campaigning groups around the square, in particular calling for the release of Shaker Aamer, a London resident whose wife and family live in Battersea, who is still held prisoner in Guantanamo Bay, and for the release of Babar Ahmad, a 37 year old British Muslim who has been detained without charge in this country since August 2004. The US wants to extradite him over allegations that he was involved in running websites supporting Afghan and Chechen insurgents. In 2009 he was awarded £60,000 compensation at the High Court after UK anti-terrorist police admitted subjecting him to 'grave abuse, tantamount to torture' during his first arrest in December 2003.

Among the speakers I did hear were Billy Hayes, rapper Lowkey, Lindsey German, Bruce Kent, John Pilger, Jemima Khan, Tony Benn, George Galloway and Julian Assange, who was at the centre of a huge media scrum both before and after his address. Joan Humphries whose grandson Kevin Elliot was killed in Afghanistan spoke for herself and other families of soldiers who have died there. We heard from David Gentleman who designed the many fine Stop the War posters, Elvis McGonagall performed one of his poems and the newly elected National Chair of Stop the War Coalition, Jeremy Corbyn MP gave the final speech.

By this time quite a few of the estimated 5000 people had left and gone home, and there were perhaps 1500 who then marched down Whitehall, led by veteran peace protester Hetty Bower. There a delegation was to deliver a letter from military families calling on the prime minister to bring the troops home. The marchers refused to go into the pens on the far side of the road and crowded across Whitehall, closing the road to traffic. They massed in front of the gates to Downing Street, but after around ten minutes were pushed back by police towards the centre of the road. There were a few minor scuffles as police, sometimes perhaps with a little unnecessary excessive force which angered the protesters cleared some areas.

Police seemed to be stopping some of the protesters from leaving, particularly towards Parliament Square, and I think their presence probably prolonged the protest, but soon people were slipping away, and I joined the stream and left.

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